But I Do Get an Extra Lei, Don’t I?

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Outside magazine, December 1995

But I Do Get an Extra Lei, Don’t I?
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta

“The guy who wins, wins,” says Jim Barahal, president of next month’s Honolulu Marathon. “It’s anti-athletic to award prize money based on who you are.” That may be so, but the feeling apparently isn’t shared by some mainland marathon officials, a growing number of whom have begun offering “incentive” money to top American finishers at their races. The thinking behind this
jingoism? Let the spotlight shine on a few red-blooded if slightly less gifted American runners, even though foreigners, particularly Kenyans, tend to win practically every big race these days. In the New York City Marathon, for instance, an American taking third place can expect to pocket more ($20,000) than a foreigner placing second ($15,000). The payoffs in Honolulu–$10,000,
$5,000, $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000 for first through fifth, respectively–will reflect speed, not breed.

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